Ante Rebic has lifted the lid on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s influence on Milan, explaining that the veteran Swede is a “leader” in the dressing room and on the pitch.
The 38-year-old striker returned to San Siro in January after eight years away and his return has coincided with an upturn in the club’s success.
Ibrahimovic, who has enjoyed a storied career at the likes of Ajax, Juve, Inter, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, has played 13 Serie A matches in 2020, scoring five goals and laying on another three as Stefano Pioli’s side have climbed from 11th to seventh off the back of a fine run of results.
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Among the players to benefit most from Ibrahimovic’s presence has been Croatia international Rebic, who hadn’t found the net at all in the league before then. Since, he has netted 10 times in 15 league outings.
Speaking to Sportweek, he explained the sense of confidence that Ibrahimovic brings the side, pinpointing the recent 4-2 success over Juventus as a particular example.
“We need him. Ibra is a leader. Before the Juve match he said to us: ‘I will show Juventus players how to play football.’ It was his way of firing us up,” he said.
“He has brought so much to everyone. When he says something, most of the players are silent but if I don’t hold the same opinion as him, I tell him,” Rebic added before citing two further January additions as key influences.
“Asmir Begovic and Simon Kjaer, too ... They are mature players who know how to calm you down or encourage you.”
While Ibrahimovic’s future at San Siro remains in the balance, the Rossoneri captured Kjaer on a two-year deal from Sevilla earlier this week, ensuring that the Denmark captain will remain with the club after a loan deal was initially struck in January.
Milan are seeking to ensure European football for next season, with the next leg of their quest coming at home to Bologna on Saturday.
There are five matches of the Serie A campaign remaining, with Pioli’s side lying seventh in the standings on 53 points.